• 40 candidates vie for six Binibining Pilipinas crowns


    Titleholders from other pageants, celebrities among 2018 aspirants
    Official candidates to the 2018 Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant were presented to media on Wednesday at Novotel Manila, with the coronation night set on March 18 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.

    Stunning in their blue two-piece swimsuits, the 40 candidates from provinces and cities all across the country are vying for six titles as successors to Miss Universe Philippines 2017 Rachel Peters, Binibining Pilipinas-International 2017 Mariel de Leon, Binibining Pilipinas-Supranational 2017 Chanel Olive Thomas, Binibining Pilipinas-Grand International 2017 and Miss Grand International Second Runner-Up Elizabeth Clenci, Binibining Pilipinas-Globe 2017 and Miss Globe First Runner-Up Nelda Ibe, and Binibining Pilipinas-Intercontinental 2017 and Miss Intercontinental First Runner-Up Katarina Rodriguez.

    Former Mutya ng Pilipinas Vickie Rushton is vying for a Binibining Pilipinas title

    This year’s roster of aspirants includes a number of registered nurses and CPAs, entrepreneurs, flight attendants, models, students, celebrities and pageant veterans who already represented the country in international contests. All of them have one aim – to wear the Philippines sash in the most prestigious beauty contests in the world, foremost of which is Miss Universe 2018.

    Media members were one in saying that it is still difficult to assume or predict who could be the next set of Binibining Pilipinas queens as they are all beautiful, alluring and smart.

    With the Philippines as an undisputed powerhouse in international beauty pageantry, the candidates will be in for more meaningful activities and tougher competition as the process of choosing the country’s representatives has become more rigid to live up to its status as the leading producer of titleholders.

    Familiar faces
    Candidate No. 1 Vickie Rushton, who became a household name as a “Pinoy Big Brother” housemate in 2014, won Mutya ng Pilipinas in 2011. She is from Talisay, Negros Occidental.

    Asked by The Manila Times what title and crown she is aiming for, Rushton exclaimed, “Why Miss Universe [Philippines], of course!” She was quick to add, however, that to win any one of the crowns will be an honor for her as her primary aim is to represent the Philippines in an international pageant.

    As Mutya titleholder, Rushton was supposed to carry the banner for the Philippines in the Miss Intercontinental 2011 pageant in Spain, but changes in schedule forced local organizers to send a replacement instead.

    Asked if boyfriend Jason Abalos [who is now a GMA Network talent after more than a decade with ABS-CBN]is all-out in supporting her, she giggled and answered in the affirmative.

    Catriona Gray, who made it to the Miss World Top 5 in 2016, is also a popular bet this year. She is aiming for the Miss Universe-Philippines crown no less as candidate No. 20 representing Albay. She shared she is enjoying her Binibini experience already, adding, “Each organization has different ways [of running things], so this is a new experience from Miss World.”

    Beside Gray as Candidate No. 19 is volleybelle Michele Gumabao. Not only is this sporty beauty popular as co-captain of the De La Salle University Lady Spikers in 2012 and 2013, but she was also a former Pinoy Big Brother All-In housemate in 2014. A graduate of BS Marketing Management, Gumabao is a product endorser and was game analyst on ABS-CBN Sports+Action’s coverage of the NCAA Season 91 Volleyball Tournament.

    Meanwhile, candidate No. 36 Loren Mar Artajos succeeded Miss Earth Philippines 2016 Imelda Schweighart after the latter resigned due to controversies in the international contest won by Katherine Espin of Peru.

    Another beauty pageant veteran is Candidate No. 32 Eva Psychee Patalinjug, crowned Mutya Ng Pilipinas-Asia Pacific International 2014. The registered nurse was also Miss Cebu 2014 representing Lapu-Lapu City.

    The rest of the candidates who have equal chances of winning any of the six crowns are: Catherine Ventura from Antipolo City, Muriel Orals from Cebu City, Ana Patricia Asturias from Tacloban City, Rose Marie Murphy from Cabadbaran City, Janice Roman from Manila, Sigrid Grace Flores from Catanduanes, Marie Sherry Ann Torres from Mandaluyong City, Agatha Lei Romero from Quezon City, Kayesha Chua from Legazpi City.

    Maria Andrea Abesamis from Pasig City, Janette Roanne Sturm from General Santos City, Kristie Rose Cequeña from Santa Rosa City, Samantha Bernardo from Puerto Princesa City, Juliana Kapeundl from Batangas, Annalita Vizcarra from Negros Occidental, Maria Ahtisa Manalo from Quezon, Rosantonette Mendoza from Bacoor City.

    Anjame Magbitang from Bulacan, Sophia Julia Baino from Batangas, Ena Louis Velasco from Cebu City, Edjelyn Joy Gamboa from Oriental Mindoro, Jerellen Rodriguez from Batangas, Wynonah Van Joy Baluyot from Cebu, Henna Kaizzelle Nicole Cajandig from Sulta Kudarat, Angelica Mae Corbe from Legazpi City, Samantha Kaye Avestruz from Tacloban City, Sarah Margarette Joson from Manila.

    Jehza Mae Huelar from Davao City, Stephanie Joy Abellanida from North Cotabato, Mary Joy de Castro from Davao del Norte, Sandra Lemonon from Pasig City, Patrizia Garcia from Rizal, Karen Gallman from Bohol, Trixia Marie Maraña from Dumaguete City, and Angelie Aubrey Asuncion from Sorsogon.

    The roster’s first major contest is the National Costume Competition, which will be held at the Kia Theatre on March 3, while the Parade of Beauties at the Araneta Center grounds is scheduled on March 10.

    The Philippines has three Miss Universe titleholders – Gloria Diaz (1969), Margie Moran (1973) and Pia Wurtzbach (2015).

    Outgoing queens Nelda Ibe, Mariel de Leon, Rachel Peters, Elizabeth Clenci and Chanel Olive Thomas (not in photo is Katarina Rodriguez)

    Binibining Pilipinas Charities Incorporated Chairman Stella Marquez Araneta was the very first Miss International winner in 1960. Representing Colombia then, she became the prime mover behind Filipina wins in the international circuit when she moved to the Philippines and married businessman Jorge Araneta.

    The Japan-based Miss International pageant has been the most fertile ground for Filipinas with six wins, namely Gemma Cruz (1964), Aurora Pijuan (1970), Melanie Marquez (1979), Precious Lara Quigaman (2005), Bea Rose Santiago (2013) and Kylie Verzosa (2016). Only Venezuela is ahead of the Philippines with seven wins.


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